Let’s set aside, for a moment, whether or not you (or I) support the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare replacement bill. That’s been debated publicly and privately more tenaciously than any bill since Obamacare and in a much smaller time frame. Instead, let’s look at one argument: future elections.
There have been a lot of fallback arguments made. These are the indirect arguments not associated with the substance of the bill that people will make in an attempt to paint passage as a proper strategic move. The most common one is that the GOP needs to pass SOMETHING in order to go into the midterm elections from a position of strength with the claim that they kept their promise.
In one sense, this is true. As a whole, if the GOP cannot pass some form of Obamacare repeal, they’ll lose face… as a party. It will reflect poorly on the party in a way that sparks national discussions. RNC representatives will have to spin feverishly. Fundraising, their strong point for a long time, will be hampered.
In every other sense, it’s false to believe they’ll lose the midterm elections by not passing Graham-Cassidy. First, let’s look at the obvious example: Obamacare. When it passed in 2010, every leftwing media outlet heralded it as a show of strength for the Democratic Party and President Obama. It was. However, that show of strength did not translate into electoral wins. Later that year, the Democrats lost the House. Four years later, they lost the Senate. Two years later, they lost the White House. They were defeated by GOP candidates who incessantly hammered on the need to repeal Obamacare.
The same scenario looms for the GOP. Will the party be strengthened? Yes. Will the President? Yes. Will individual candidates in the House and Senate be strengthened? No. By passing Graham-Cassidy, the GOP will be taking the same red meat they’ve been using for seven years and handing it to their Democratic competitors. Every Democrat running for seats on Capitol Hill will use Graham-Cassidy and any shortcomings that come to light before election day as all the ammunition they need to win.
On a national stage, it would be hard for the GOP to argue their failure to repeal Obamacare. In individual elections for the House and Senate, a good GOP candidate can easily remove that albatross from their neck based upon their personal voting record. If they voted for repeal, the issue is no longer a valid attack point. In fact, PASSING Graham-Cassidy will force them to answer more questions on the defensive… just as Democrats had to do in 2010 after Obamacare passed. That didn’t work out well for them and it won’t work out for many vulnerable GOP candidates.
Passing Graham-Cassidy will help the President win reelection in 2020 and will make the GOP look good. It will harm midterm GOP candidates in 2018 just as Obamacare harmed midterm Democrats in 2010.